Saturday, June 15, 2019

Birds of a Different Feather

Mindlessly we parrot the language and embrace the values thrust upon us by the chatter of the age.  Words that held little moral significance a few decades ago now are emphasized and embraced as values of first priority: diversity, transparency, and inclusivity.  We apply them to ourselves and to our faith as if they were some authentic measure of goodness; we stake them out as goals for ourselves, and for others.   Yet rarely do we stop to wonder wherein their goodness lies, or even if there be any good at all.
This week, let us examine that momentarily-supreme yardstick of all human endeavors, inclusivity.  If it is such a good thing, why do so many people still yearn for exclusivity?  To judge by advertisers, exclusive offers and exclusive opportunities are still the best, and exclusive clubs are the ones people strive to join. 
Inclusivity was not always desirable.   A family or tribe provided safety and mutual care, and all others encountered mistrust or murder.  A town was built to keep out everyone who did not already live there; that’s where we get all those quaint walled cities everyone flocks to see in Europe.  An association still defines itself by the qualifications it holds for membership; who would get excited about Nobel Prizes if you got one for just showing up in physics class?  
So where’s the value in inclusion?  What makes it a good thing?  I submit that its authentic goodness can only be understood in the light of this weekend’s feast: The Most Holy Trinity.  God is inclusive.
God is three persons in one God, and in His inmost being He is self-giving and receptive in communion.  Because this is His very nature, His self-giving extends to us in His creation of us in His image and likeness.  His receptivity into communion draws us into a “club” for which we lack the qualifications:  better even than the Nobel Prize, He offers us to share in His divinity, that is, all that makes Him (and not us) God.  It is unmerited inclusion!
Herein lies the root of any goodness in inclusion: the Triune God does it.  That in which He includes people (divine life); what makes inclusion possible (the complete self-sacrifice of His Divine Son); and how we accept this astonishing offer (repentance) are all essential to understanding what is good about inclusion.  Behind the contingent good, these are the authentic goods.  
In a secular age, people who lose sight of God lose sight of what makes inclusion good, that without which it is indifferent or even harmful.  This weekend, the Church reminds us of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Who teaches us and helps us to include others in every good we have, even unto our families.  Those who do not know the Triune God, do not do this. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen. 

We rejoice in having one of our family included in the unique divine reality, in the Holy Priesthood of Jesus the Son of God, Who is both Priest and Victim.   His is the unique true Priesthood, complete and perfect, lacking nothing; yet He includes one of our own parish sons in His Priesthood.  He does this not for any merit recognized, but rather for our brother’s salvation, and for the salvation of the world.  And Father Ben Petty’s participation in that Priesthood will be one more life engaged in the rescue of us and our fellows from the mindlessness of parroting secular virtues.  In his self-sacrificing Priesthood, we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16) 
Monsignor Smith